By on July 14, 2015

NB_23Tesla2.jpg

All power is not created equal.

That’s one of many takeaways from a comprehensive study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, one of the nation’s prominent think tanks.

The paper focused on the relative impact of green-energy cars, concluding that an electric car in New Jersey doesn’t have the same environmental impact as an electric car in California.

The initial reaction has been largely surface-deep: electric cars on the East Coast and in the South are powered by “dirty energy” and aren’t as clean as their gas-powered counterparts. That much is a quasi-fair assessment — the source for the electric cars’ power should be considered when it comes to ultimately determining their environmental impacts.

The study, however, is a larger look at the federal subsidies offered on electric cars.

“These factors generate critical questions as to the merits of the federal subsidy. The first factor questions the policy in terms of its sign: is it better to subsidize or tax electric vehicle purchases? The second factor raises concerns regarding the one-size-fits-all design of the subsidy,” the report states.

The second factor answers itself: a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works — and in terms of the electric car subsidy, it doesn’t work at all anymore.

It’s clear that well-heeled buyers — who may not actually need a tax perk anyway — are adopting expensive electric cars at a higher clip than middle-class Americans. In the first quarter of 2015, Tesla’s Model S outsold the Nissan Leaf despite costing nearly $40,000 more. In addition to the pricier pick, proportionately more electric-car buyers were from regions of the U.S. with higher subsidies than other parts of the country.

It’s hard to imagine how luxury car buyers deserve the same tax breaks as car buyers shopping in ranges half that of their counterparts, but it’s even harder to imagine how buyers in markets with comparatively “dirtier power” deserve clean federal tax rebates at all. As the report exhaustively details, the externalities of states’ electric-vehicle incentives weren’t considered before states began offering them. According to the report, 91 percent of pollution from electric cars is exported to states other than where the car is driven.

It’s clear there are innumerable factors when considering the efficacy of economic incentives for the “public good.” Markets often don’t respond quickly or with conscience when it comes to public initiatives. Electric vehicle purchases in the United States are clearly lukewarm now after gas prices have dropped considerably over the last 5 years. It’s equally clear that the future of transportation of a growing population needs to be powered by something other than a finite resource that requires breaking the earth, extracting ancient raw materials, refining them, and shipping them halfway across the world to be sold for less than milk in many markets. Relying on that incredibly destructive process for a lasting consistent energy resource makes little sense.

And still, gasoline is an incredibly potent and efficient fuel. A kilogram of gasoline has more potential energy than coal, methanol, ethanol, fat, gunpowder, TNT or even dynamite. Our reliance on gasoline is not without reason: it’s incredibly useful as an energy source.

But just like gasoline has in the past, electric energy requires progressive taxes and consideration to improve the infrastructure it relies on, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. California recently adopted a tiered system for its incentives based on buyer income. That’s a good first step, but it should also be expanded. The United States should consider a tiered tax on some electric cars based on income and use.

It’s clear the gas tax is outdated and ineffective at maintaining America’s roads and bridges. A tax on electric cars should not be considered as some kind of replacement, supplement or even complement to a woefully outdated gas tax that needs comprehensive reform.

But the gas-guzzler tax, a penalty that creates very little revenue and even less discouragement from buying inefficient cars, is an interesting first step. The tiered system levies a tax that gets progressively larger as the car gets thirstier. Even the 16-cylinder, quad-turbo Bugatti Veyron, which swallows more gas than any other production car on the road, didn’t qualify for the steepest penalty. In 2012, the sin tax generated only $73.5 million in revenue — a fiscal drop in the bucket for the government.

Any tax revenue based on the electric car’s initial price could help fund infrastructure improvements to the power grid and offset environmental impacts felt beyond than where the vehicle is purchased. Just like municipal and state taxes vary by region and services, an electric car tax wouldn’t need to be a unilateral levy.

Like the gas-guzzler tax, a tax on electric cars isn’t meant to raise money — it’s meant to be a consideration: how much help is a tax break on a luxury car?

The appeal of electric cars and clean energy would still remain, and a graduated tax on cars based on MSRP could still persuade middle-of-the-road buyers to consider potentially cleaner electric cars when they head to dealer lots. But needlessly subsidizing wealthier buyers purchasing environmentally neutral — or marginally helpful — electric cars doesn’t serve a larger goal of cleaner transportation. The United States wouldn’t be the first country to revisit its electric-car incentives.

The power of public perception is very often greater than reality. In that respect, all power is clearly not equally created.

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202 Comments on “Editorial: Tax – Don’t Subsidize – Electric Cars...”


  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    1. Stop subsidizing food in fuel. Does corn based ethanol save anything?
    2. Stop subsidizing oil by giving drillers ridiculously cheap lease rates on oil fields. The US tax payer should get a significant percentage of revenue per barrel produced, not a flat rate on the well.

    • 0 avatar
      WhiskeyRiver

      One has to wonder about the sanity of a society that thinks it’s a good idea to set their food on fire.

      As a sidebar to this comment: If adding ethanol to fuel causes an engine to burn more of it, how can that be good for the environment?

      On topic: Don’t subsidize this industry which is mostly built on a lie. The fuels consumed to power the electric plants so that these cars can be charged up is far more damaging to the environment than just burning gasoline in them.

      If we’re going to subsidize anything here, then let’s pay the manufacturers NOT TO BUILD THEM.

      We do it with farmers all the time. We pay farmers every year not to grow something.

      If they start paying not to build, I’ll immediately get into the electric car building business.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Yes, because America is suffering from an acute corn shortage.

        I have to remind myself that you’re the guy who can’t figure out that stuff on film isn’t always real.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I get my corn info from Tony the Tiger. He says corn, especially in flaked and frosted form, is, “GRRREAT!”

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Corn syrup is good eatin’. It’s high in fructose, and more is always better.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            And how ’bout that Kellogs?! Hosting this surprise grudge match, To The Death, between Ren Hoek and Dr. Evil!

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          You should learn something about farming, Pch101. I’m just kidding. You haven’t learned anything in the time you’ve been here. Everyone else probably already knows that arable land fatigues, so growing the same crop on it over and over because of some subsidy damages it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Yes, when I pointed out sarcastically that the US has anything but a corn shortage, I was advocating poor farming practices.

            Work on those reading skills, champ. Here, have some corn flakes, you could use some breakfast.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I’m sure Exxon gets their government mandated corn at Kroger. No land is impacted by people that implement your destructively stupid political views.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            There’s obviously no pea shortage — one of them ended up in your skull.

            I didn’t advocate corn subsidies. I pointed out a basic fact — we have a lot of corn.

            Go ahead, have another bowl of corn flakes. There’s plenty more where that came from.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Ethanol production leaves behind by-products with much of the corn’s original nutrient value. I visited a friend’s brother’s farm not too long ago. He grows corn, ships it to the ethanol plant and they return whatever’s left after the starch is used up and he’s quite happy with it as animal feed.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            At this point, the US is exporting ethanol byproducts as animal feed.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Yes, which is why mono-crop areas tend to use fertilizers to minimize fatigue which is an issue but simple crop rotation mixed with some mono-crop variants or mixed crop uses solves that problem.

            TTAC has a pointless jihad against ethanol which technically burns ‘clean’ compared to gasoline since it’s carbon neutral for the most part.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Car websites in general go off the rails when it comes to ethanol.

            There’s a reason why ethanol is a common ingredient in cleaners and detergents: Because it cleans stuff. It’s actually good for your engine in small amounts, as it eliminates deposits. It’s also an octane booster.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Well ethanol is alcohol which is a pretty strong solvent actually. Gasoline is also a solvent but burning it releases 1000s of hydrocarbons and other additives to get it to burn efficiently because it’s a complex hydrocarbon. It’s the difference in burning hydrogen and setting off a nuclear bomb (ok, not quite that big a difference) but gasoline doesn’t really want to burn until it atomizes.

    • 0 avatar

      THANK YOU

      I truly believe Government food subsidies help keep 3rd world nations poor because they can’t sell their products easily.

      Subsidizing oil shouldn’t be necessary since oil is a highly demanded product. It will pay for itself.

      As for Electric cars:

      I see NO REASON why someone with $135,000 to buy a P85D should get $7500 off. If you truly want to make electric vehicles more affordable the smarter thing to do is offer businesses tax breaks to install chargers on their private property. This would make it so more people would have a place to charge them.

      I could drive to work, plug my car in, do my 7 hour work day – come outside, unplug and go home.

      Movie theaters, malls, restaurants, gas stations, etc,etc – everyone should have a 240v charger available.

      Thing is, when you have a government spending $45,000 PER SECOND, raising taxes is all they’re thinking about anyway.

      • 0 avatar

        “And still, gasoline is an incredibly potent and efficient fuel. A kilogram of gasoline has more potential energy than coal, methanol, ethanol, fat, gunpowder, TNT or even dynamite. Our reliance on gasoline is not without reason: it’s incredibly useful as an energy source.”

        Fossil fuels got their energy from the sun.
        Over a period of hundreds of millions of years they grew and were compacted into the ground. Now we dig them up and use them.

        Even if we stopped using them, the Earth would simply melt them and release the gases into the atmosphere: ie VOLCANOES.

        The reason fossil fuels are so efficient is because it requires very little energy to access them. The cost/benefit/harm model is STILL UNKOWN since CO2 is part of natural processes and Electricity doesn’t grow on trees. As it stands, Electricity production is a byproduct of fossil fuel use. We have no shortage of electricity.

        Nuclear power has FAR MORE devastating consequences to the environment than fossil fuels and Wind/solar/geothermal can’t exceed peak production (you can’t get the wind to blow harder, nor can you get the sun to shine harder).

        I’d like to see solar panels proliferated, along with battery technology. Someone needs to build entire roofs out of Plastic covered solar panels.

        PLASTIC is not biodegradable. Why aren’t we using it to make roofing material?

        A roof made out of plastic will NEVER break down – even when glass would slowly deform over decades.

        Make solar panels, cover them with plastic, make roofs out of them, attatch them to user-replaceable batteries, power your stuff…

        PROFIT.

        • 0 avatar
          WhiskeyRiver

          I think you’d make a great neighbor bigtruck.

          Assuming you’d spend some time at my tiki bar on the back deck.

          We’ve got a big tv out there with surround sound with a 6 channel hi-def cable box. Lots of bar lights. Icemaker and fridge. We don’t miss much while we’re relaxing.

          It’s the best way to abuse the local power grid.

        • 0 avatar

          For once I find myself agreeing with much of what you say–although not everything. For example, I doubt that most of the oil reserves are going to be blown into the sky by volcanoes if we don’t use them. At least not on any human time scale. Some, maybe. But I don’t think the Middle East, for example, is volcanic territory.

          In a more practical sphere, while in general what you’re suggesting about solar panels is likely to happen, plastic is not indestructible. The UV in the direct sunlight, and the temperature fluctuations take their toll.

        • 0 avatar
          Alex Mackinnon

          Most plastics degrades with UV.They also get brittle and weak.

          There’s already solar shingles that you can get.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          “Nuclear power has FAR MORE devastating consequences to the environment than fossil fuels”
          What hole did you pull that nugget from? I’ll just add “B F’n S” and let you google your way back to reality.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >>>I see NO REASON why someone with $135,000 to buy a P85D should get $7500 off.

        I agree and I’m an EV fanboy. These cars have enough appeal that they don’t need the subsidies. In fact, I think thinks Teslas subsidy is due to expire in a couple of years anyway. It will have zero impact on their high end sales. I think competing luxury manufacturers new found love for 4 cylinders will do more for high end EVs than a 7500 subsidy.

      • 0 avatar
        beastpilot

        Still trolling that $135K number from a 2014 widow sticker, eh?

        As long as we are throwing out worthless, contextless numbers for people with poor math skills: Did you know that if the Government spends $45K per second, that’s only a 11% tax rate on our GDP? Sounds pretty reasonable.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    I have always questioned why we are giving tax breaks to multimillionaires to purchase a toy that they would have purchased without the tax break anyway.

    From cars to windmills, our tax system is a mess. Attempts to encourage and discourage behavior is at best a disincentive to investment and at worst cannon fodder for groups on both sides of the political spectrum.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The majority of electrified cars are Nissan LEAFs and Chevy Volts, which are used by middle and upper middle folks to get to work and take their children to school. It appears that Tesla finally outsold the LEAF in the first quarter of this year,

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    Meh. This is a pretty bad idea.

    I don’t like giving money to rich EV buyers, but considering just over a decade ago the US gov’t was subsidizing the purchase of $100,000 Hummers, just because, I think it’s only fair that it goes the other way too.

    Start charging gas guzzler taxes based on engine size, simple as that. We live in an age where you can get nearly 300 HP out of a 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine, more than most people will ever need.

    Look at what Norway has done; EV sales are tax exempt in a nation that charges HUGE taxes on car sales, but they also added a lot of conveniences, like HOV lane access, no tolls, and free parking in major cities, that make living with an electric car that much easier.

    Oil is a double-edged sword, and while much of civilization would not have been built without it, our experience with the other edge of the blade should be all the encouragement we need to seek an alternative.

    At the end of the day though, people will stick steadfastly by oil, right up until the last well goes dry, as long as it’s easier and more affordable. But we’re all just one MidEast (or Canadian) oil crisis away from another economic crisis.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Start charging gas guzzler taxes based on engine size, simple as that.”

      The trouble with this is that actual engine displacement doesn’t have much to do with consumption in the age of forced induction. Not that I think we should do this, but a better way to curb consumption would be to tax the fuel itself.

      • 0 avatar
        harshciygar

        Yes and no. True, you can still manage less than 20 MPG out of the EcoBoost Mustang in the city, but on the highway its 31 MPG vs. 25 MPG for the V8.

        Now stretch that over a decade of driving (about 120,000 miles), and you’ve got a total fuel consumption of 3,870 gallons of gas for the EcoBoost vs. 4,800 gallons for the 5.0 V8.

        That’s 1,000 gallons of fuel saved, on a single vehicle. Now multiply that by however tens of thousands of Mustangs are sold every year, and the numbers really start to add up.

        Do I expect every Mustang owner to hit the EPA figures? Not at all. But given those are the only “hard” numbers we have to go by, I think my point remains the same. In the short term, the difference isn’t much, but long term, we’re talking about huge numbers in terms of both fuel, and cost.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The engines of those two cars aren’t directly comparable. One produces 100 more peak horsepower than the other in the same chassis, so of course it consumes more fuel by design. That’s not necessarily a direct function of it’s displacement however.

          Another example is the Corvette which has a 6.2L V8, yet nets EPA mileage figures closer to the 2.0T Mustang. It wouldn’t make sense to tax the Covette 3x more if the goal is curbing consumption.

          A basic fuel tax takes everything into account without being needlessly complex. Displacement taxes are arcaic and have no place existing along side modern powertrains.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            According to google combined averages are:

            Corvette – 23
            Mustang 2.3L – 26
            Mustang 3.7L – 22
            Mustang 5.0L – 19

            There is a direct and appreciable curve of displacement to consumption. So assuming the original 120,000 miles the fuel usage would be:

            Corvette – 5218
            Mustang 2.3L – 4615
            Mustang 3.7L – 5455
            Mustang 5.0L – 6318

            So displacement definitely has a visible fuel difference, a 2.3L engine saves nearly 800 gallons in fuel over the lifetime of the vehicle. A surcharge would be better placed on combined MPG rather than displacement as it is obvious the 6.2L is tuned to benefit from highway driving where the 3.7L is tuned towards city (Mustang bottoms at 17, Corvette tops out there and drops to 13).

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Fuel consumption is a function of power output, not displacement per se. The more power that you produce, the more fuel that you burn.

            And you can’t directly compare turbo motors with naturally aspirated ones.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The Suburban 2wd gets a better EPA rating than the Expedition EL 2wd. The Escalade ESV 4wd gets the same rating as the Navigator L 4wd and LR4. The Charger SRT8 is equal to the CTS vSport, the Cherokee V6 matches the X3 sDrive28i. I’m sure there are other examples I can find.

          Plus, there are the Infiniti and certain Lexus hybrids, which use 3.5l V6s but have fuel economy greater than the lower displacement turbo engines they compete with.

          If a tax on product is really needed it should be on fuel consumption, not engine displacement.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Japan has all kinds of high-output motors under 2.0 liters thanks to a displacement tax. You can probably credit that tax for spurring Honda to produce the first naturally aspirated motor that produced 100 hp per liter.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Japan is also a collectivist society with a soft-totalitarian government that treats the individual as a tool of society, and its government goes out of its way to make car ownership as difficult and expensive as possible for the common man, what with all those picayune taxes and regulations.

        But I suppose you want us to adopt those aspects of how the Japanese do things, too.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Er, sure, whatever.

          I apologize for your poor reading skills, but I was pointing out to the thread starter that Japan’s displacement tax did not prevent automakers from making engines more powerful. He is associating displacement with fuel economy, when the relationship is one of fuel economy to output.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          I love how you can say that and yet the TTAC authors seem to think Japan does everything better in practical terms than we do. So maybe we’re doing things wrong if they can out build us with ease?

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    This question should be asked with reference to an understanding of the purpose of The State.

    Why does The State even exist in the first place? For what reason did man create the institution known as The State?

    The State exists to serve two, and only two, purposes:

    1 – To protect the citizens from hostile foreigners.
    2 – To prevent those same citizens from victimizing each other.

    It has no business doing anything else – like either subsidizing or taxing a specific type of vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Thanks for your post, Ayn Rand. However, after I graduated high school and found out how the real world works, I learned that you’re generally irrelevant.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Poor Alpha has a tendency of confusing his fantasy world with reality.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Pch, yesterday in a thread you repeatedly sank to personal insults of yours truly and another poster as people who “just don’t get it,” etc. Now you’re doing it here to a third individual.

          You seem to have enough interesting ideas to form the basis for productive posts (and for the record, I actually happen to agree with your position on the issue being discussed in this thread). I hope you will try to stick to expressing those ideas. If you can’t or don’t, I hope the site ops will act to preserve the integrity of the B&B discussion from the coarsening that this abusive attitude will inevitably cause.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Well, you didn’t get it. And in that particular case, you were proving that the thread starter was right to expect that you wouldn’t get it, so the irony was even greater.

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        And its attitudes like yours that have brought us to this place. Tax this, subsidize that….the road to our tax code hell was paved with good intentions.

        All the users of the common infrastructure need to pay for it. This means either a tax on fuel or traveled miles….or a flat road license tax.

        We need to fix how we fund our infrastructure so that the costs are borne by the people using the infrastructure. Taxing and subsidizing different types of cars is not the right way.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          “the road to our tax code hell was paved with good intentions.”

          No, it’s paved with campaign cash and intentionally ignorant and uncaring voters.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Yes, because living in one of the most successful societies in the history of man is such a drag, man. You poor victim you.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            You do understand that “the most successful society in history” got that way because we restrained the State and let the individual do his own thing, right?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Just for starters, somebody needs to type “Erie Canal,” “homesteading,” “rural free delivery,” “GI bill” and “FHA” into a search engine.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “Just for starters, somebody needs to type “Erie Canal,” “homesteading,” “rural free delivery,” “GI bill” and “FHA” into a search engine.”

            It probably wouldn’t hurt for him to google up the history of the internet, either.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Judging from the quality of some of the comments, the government really blew it when it invented the internet. There are a lot of wrecks on the information superhighway.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The mantra “no business plan survives first contact with customers” applies to a whole lot of other disciplines.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “1 – To protect the citizens from hostile foreigners.”

      Electric cars tend to make use less vulnerable to hostile foreign petro-states.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        And, “2 – To prevent those same citizens from victimizing each other.”

        Putting carbon in the air at the current rate (both from gasoline cars and carbon-inefficient coal generating plants) is victimizing almost everyone on earth. True, the worst consequences will be suffered by the residents of poor places outside the United States, but we should at least be somewhat aware of the rest of the world.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Electric cars don’t make us less vulnerable as effectively as ANWAR, Colorado, deep-water Gulf of Mexico, and coastal oil extraction would, pretending for a moment that making us less vulnerable is actually a concern of the alternative energy cartel.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          “Electric cars don’t make us less vulnerable as effectively as ANWAR, Colorado, deep-water Gulf of Mexico, and coastal oil extraction would, pretending for a moment that making us less vulnerable is actually a concern of the alternative energy cartel.”

          Absolutely! Don’t develop clean, sensible, freely refueled alternatives because running out of a strategically important resource FIRST is such a great idea!

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        What are using to generate the electricity, pixie dust? Electric cars move the gas bill from the car to the grid, that’s all…..

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The grid is already a couple of times more efficient than small ICE power in much of the country and can eventually be made efficient everywhere, renewable and carbon-free without any changes to anything it powers.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      In theory, yes. But at what point are the citizens victimizing each other? Does my Excursion victimize you because it uses a greater proportion of a finite resource than your Prius? Do monopolies count as citizens victimizing each other? Does a free market that has figured out how to concentrate 80% of the nation’s wealth under the control of 1% of its population count? And who are hostile foreigners? Nations who point missiles at us? Nations who produce more oil in a deliberate attempt to drive US producers out of business? Individuals who think America is bad? The real world tends to takes your ivory-tower academic theories and crap all over them, and it gets complicated.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The idea of specifically targeting EVs for unique taxes is beyond over the top. You may as well call it the Get Off My Lawn tax, as the resentment is obvious.

    In any case, the point of the tax breaks is to help the OEM, which they do. The automakers have smaller losses thanks to the higher deliveries that come from the subsidies — the discount doesn’t come directly out of the automaker’s pocket, while the consumer is more likely to buy because it feels like a better deal. (Americans love a discount.)

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I think the article could be written better but the tax isn’t “unique,” it’s an EV-flavor of the existing highway tax. Since they don’t buy any gas, they’re currently more or less exempt. Yet, they use the roads, so they shouldn’t they cough up?

      The challenge is to keep it from becoming ridiculous. Crazy schemes to track miles with GPS are ridiculous and the best plan is to get ahead of that with a sensible arrangement, like simply paying a per-mile fee, probably adjusted by weight, at annual re-registration.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        He’s making an argument that’s fairly common in right-wing circles. I’ve seen it before, and I’m sure that I’ll see it again.

        It indirectly supports the fallacy that we finance our roads solely from fuel taxes, an inaccuracy that is also popular in conservative circles. The reality is that we spend about $2 on roads for every $1 that we collect in fuel taxes, and road users are net takers from the general population. These types of articles almost never point out this little glitch in their argument; drivers are not rugged individuals who are paying for everything on their own.

        In any case, what I was pointing out is that these tax breaks primarily benefit the producer. The end user is just a means to an end — the tax breaks are intended to move more product. It’s not a break for rich people, it’s a prop for Tesla et. al.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The federal government collects $34 billion a year in gas taxes and distributes $50 billion a year for transportation funding. You’re failing to notice that 30% of that money is wasted on mass transit and 10% is dispersed as other forms of pork, leaving $30 billion for highways, so people that drive cars are already subsidizing every other form of transportation before you account for state and local gas taxes. $34,000,000,000>$30,000,000,000 so stop insulting the people you’re leeching off of.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The fear and loathing of mass transit is humorous.

            Are you aware that you’re a nutjob, or have you consciously surrendered to the voices inside your head?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            $15 billion is spent a year on mass transit just to cover the difference between what it costs and what people who use it will pay. I’m not the only one that doesn’t value mass transit, which you’d understand if you weren’t carrying a political belief that has already killed tens of millions.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Right. And the road in front of my house is turning a handsome profit.

            The buffoonery in your camp is admirable for its persistence. Your inability to hold your pet projects to the same standards is equally impressive — double standards are just awesome.

            Generally speaking, transportation is a money loser. We pay for it with the economic growth that it provides. Expecting everything that you personally dislike to be a self-contained profit center is simply stupid on its face.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You just called roads a pet project. Argue with your cat. Good luck.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’d be happy to put up a toll booth that would charge you and guys like you to use them, you big, tough, bold individual you.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            A new idea for CJ to ponder:

            What if mass transit went away? Without it, people who can’t afford cars would be limited to jobs within walking or biking distance. While I’m sure that tickles his “f**k the poor” fancy, the fact is that these people also work.

            Without these workers, our labor force would be restricted to people with cars.

            I’m sure that’d be a real boon for the economy…and his tax bill, which would go up due to all the welfare spending.

            (Again, CJ…do you actually read over your comments before you post them?)

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            That’s cute. The nuns at your local convent will have an orgy before CJ ever ponders anything.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Here’s a thought: Let people that use mass transit pay for it. Then they’ll know if it is worthwhile. Maybe a car service would be cheaper. Maybe they’d move closer to work. Maybe the money being wasted subsidizing things people don’t want enough to pay for would end up in their pockets.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            CJ, you REALLY think mass transit riders don’t pay? Really? Last I checked you have to pay them when you get on.

            And you’re arguing that people who are poor enough that they need to ride a bus will be able to “move closer to work”? Of course they will…no doubt all those malls, stores, restaurants, and offices in wealthier areas will create tons of affordable housing for their low-paid workers so they don’t have to ride the bus. Let me know when shovels start turning for that little adventure.

            Seriously, man…read over what you write before you make yourself look even dumber.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            One of the basic flaws with conservative thinking (and I use that term sarcastically) is that you have a bunch of working- and middle-class takers who mistakenly believe that they’re the givers who are carrying everyone else.

            Roads lose money. Public transit loses money. Good. Discounting them encourages people to use them, and society benefits when people and goods can move in higher volumes.

            Trying to get everything to directly pay for itself just kills the growth that would have otherwise paid for it. Of course, folks who can’t connect the dots will never figure that out.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I know mass transit users don’t pay the full price of the service they use. That you fail to understand the implications is on you. We have all the misallocations and barriers to prosperity because of evil imbeciles that think they are smarter than markets.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            That money spent on mass transit helps to make it possible to get to and from work in your car. It reduces congestion. Without it, we’d need more roads, more maintenance and you’d sit still for longer periods regardless. It also reduces the need for parking, which helps to keep parking rates from going through the roof.

            Is it worth $Whatever Billion? I don’t know but it’s certainly worth something.

            Mass transit is also how the poor get wheels. Well, reliable, comprehensive and reasonably frequent mass transit is how the poor get wheels. Their other option is unreliable cars that help them lose their jobs.

            We’ve got precious little mass transit on this end of town and the transportation solution that many of the fast food workers in my town have hit upon is to walk to work. Some walk well over two miles each way.

          • 0 avatar
            PartsUnknown

            I live in the Boston area, in a suburb about 20 miles south of the city. Mass Transit (here it’s the “T”) is a necessary evil, with emphasis on the necessary. Without it, eastern Massachusetts might be in perpetual gridlock, as Boston is notoriously difficult to get in and around. Almost everyone I know uses some form of it to get to and from the city for work.

            And believe me, users pay dearly for it. Monthly passes and parking can exceed $300 per month, depending on how far out you live. However, compared to the cost of parking in the city and the stress of driving every day, it’s a steal.

            The downside is that, like many things under state oversight (see: Big Dig), the T is poorly run, perpetually underfunded, unreliable, and in constant need of care and feeding. But hey, it’s what we have. The T is sort of like having a no-good uncle, who drinks too much at parties, steals money off your dresser and tries to hit on your wife, but somehow you love him anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            CJ, if mass transit riders have to pay their own way, then other road users also need to pay their own way. Hint: that doesn’t just include road construction, but a whole host of environmental, planning, and even defense externalities which transit incurs to a much lesser degree, especially in dense urban centers. It would be so expensive that transportation would become essentially impossible. Instead, we subsidize both drivers and transit because it’s good for the economy as a whole and for quality of life.

            There’s a good reason that every dense city in the developed world has public mass transit, at subsidy fares, and views it as a keystone of the economy.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You accidentally exposed the fallacy of the entire environmentalist power grab. The end game is the destruction of most of the population. It isn’t enough for truly avaricious people like Tom Steyer and George Soros to have more than everyone else. They’ll only be happy when most have nothing, are directly under their control, or are dead. Externalities, sustainability, Agenda 21, spillover costs, subsidies, redistribution, social justice: all tools for making the stupid into the instruments of their own destruction. Maybe Obama struck a blow against Al Gore’s pals today when he succeeded in ensuring Iranian nuclear weapons. Perhaps there is a third column of people that see themselves as directly serving the devil instead of their own rapacity.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “You accidentally exposed the fallacy of the entire environmentalist power grab. The end game is the destruction of most of the population.”

            Are you responding to other people’s posts or the voices in your head? ‘Cause there’s nothing about that in this thread.

            I often tell “conservatives” that they should get liberal’s or progressive’s views from actual liberals or progressives instead of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and GOP sound bites but you seem to have taken things to the next level.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            CJ, wow. That has to be the mother of all digressions.

            Just for your reference, externalities are not “tools for making the stupid into the instruments of their own destruction” but one of the core concepts of economics. And transportation, in any form, imposes tons of them.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “It isn’t enough for truly avaricious people like Tom Steyer and George Soros to have more than everyone else.”

            And you don’t seem too cranked up about the power and designs of the Koch Brothers. So… if someone with money supports your point of view, it’s OK and if they don’t they’re avaricious and necessarily evil?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The Koch brothers and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, but they’re not trying to herd everyone into concentration camps while pricing them out of things like home heating and freedom of mobility either.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I live in the South. My power supplier’s fuel mix last year was 41% coal, 34% natural gas, 23% nuclear, and 2% renewables. Over this and and next year, my supplier will be retiring 2 GW of coal in favor of natural gas. In 2018 or 2019 we will be adding more nuclear, so don’t make the blanket statement that all of the East and South’s electricity is dirty.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I think you’re kind of missing a key part of the argument when debating why Tesla has far more takers than the leaf. They’re playing in two totally separate markets and the Tesla compares well to it’s 60K counterparts, the leaf just doesn’t match up as well. The fact that the Prius continues to stomp the playing field is a sign to match up with. Never mind that most of the tax subsidies are such a small drop in the bucket but go to selling a perception which whether you agree with it or not is a government goal that is allowed.

    Arguably, I think as we start shutting down coal-fired plants in favor of solar and wind this argument will lose it’s bite. We’re really on the cusp of a major energy shift if we can just survive long enough to implement it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      When electricity is scarce and expensive, and all the birds are dead, the idea of electric cars will seem as quaint and absurd as having borders like everyone else.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        . . .Do you even read what you write anymore or are you just the resident crackpot? I’m not even going to bother explaining how wind turbines kill fewer birds than jetliners and skyscrapers combined and how electricity is trending cheaper in every country investing in those two renewable resources than in the US.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/04/140427-altamont-pass-will-newer-wind-turbines-mean-fewer-bird-deaths/

          I didn’t realize National Geographic was a right wing propaganda organization. It seems they didn’t get the word to obfuscate as of last spring.

          What is this electricity trending cheaper of which you speak? Do you mean because Treason Duffer is making all affordable forms of energy impractical while ignoring the constitution and the SCOTUS, or because the greenest Europeans use greater subsidies while importing needed energy from their nuclear neighbors?

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            3-8 birds per turbine year. That’s the lead buried. That’s again less than each airliner kills in a single year.

            As for the claim of importing energy from their nuclear neighbors? Eh, some do, most do not. The Scandinavians are basically eliminating nuclear as they go. It’s not going to switch tomorrow but coal and nuclear are winding down while Natural Gas will be the spot filler until solar and wind fully replace it. We’ll probably also use nuclear fusion once that’s stable enough to maintain.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            How many wind turbines are there? Until we have a quarter billion or so installed, they won’t take the lead in bird-kill:

            https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cats-kill-more-one-billion-birds-each-year

            And wind turbines do something useful – help prevent further loss of bird habitat due to climate change.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      As it stands, electric cars are have very limited appeal beyond a narrow slice of middle class buyers because they are, in essence, compact cars that cost a lot more and don’t work as well. Why the hell would an average consumer spend $30,000 on a Leaf that only goes 30 miles on a charge, when you can spend $20,000 on a Sentra in the same showroom?

      Electric cars a luxury very few middle class people can afford. But folks with money can afford a Tesla, which works far better than a Leaf. For them, a Tesla is a far more cogent proposition – it offers sensational looks and performance, loads of luxury features and toys, and range that makes it a practical everyday vehicle.

      What will have to happen for electric cars to appeal to more middle class consumers? They’ll have to become far more capable. And that will happen with the advancement of technology, which is subsidized by the higher-end products like Teslas.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Exactly. This is why we subsidize it at this point, we simply want to grow an industry that would otherwise struggle to be relevant and there is some practical design matters that the mainstream auto makers refuse to infuse into their EVs. The argument of weight to travel and such is more so tied up in the marketing of the car than engineering. A leaf curb weight is close to most small CUVs and has far less effective volume. Understandably a 500-600 lb battery pack eats up space and weight but there are actually diminishing returns the smaller the package gets in practical terms in this case. The leaf wasn’t really designed with the US in mind anyways.

        But the author is clearly using it to draw an unfair comparison which was my original point. :)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The word “tax” is mentioned seventeen times in this editorial. I realize the title is don’t subsidize electric cars (and I agree with this idea) but then it jumps around talking about fantasy progressive tax schemes on electric cars, referencing the gas guzzler tax, weighs in on fuel taxes, then finally concludes with sort of returning to the point of the futility of subsidizing wealthy buyers who purchase electric cars. Other than the fact the article seemed to jump around a bit, two things:

    1. I like the idea of EVs, but they are not a viable national transportation option without advances in battery technology. Period. Hybrids I see as being much more realistic but the article is about electric cars.

    2. Taxes of any kind are bad. Period. Not only should electric cars not be subsidized “for the rich”, there should be no EV incentives either “for the not so rich”. Using tax money is favor or in disapproval of a product is entirely political in nature and is complete bullsh*t.

    “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy … [is] not to be denied”

    Chief Justice John Marshall

    http://www.bartleby.com/73/1798.html

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      1. Those advances are more likely if there’s cash flowing that way. I’d prefer to see money spent on more basic research but this drives the same from another angle.

      2. “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization” – or some very similar expression that I’m not going to bother to look up because, frankly, when you come up with such a sweeping black-and-white generalization, it’s really difficult to take you seriously.

      Some other Supreme Court Judge

      However, I did look up your quote and I find that it is taken from a decision in which the Supreme Court denied Maryland the power to tax a Federal institution. Marshall was pointing out that Maryland, if allowed to tax a Federal institution, could destroy that institution and he wasn’t having any of that.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        1. Then research monies need to be allocated for batteries, not the EVs. Now I don’t fully follow Tesla and its musings but unless Tesla is doing this research all tax subsidies to pure EVs are either a form of corporate welfare (i.e. to Tesla) or helping reimburse a major mfg for a loss making or compliance car (Fiat 500e, Nissan Leaf).

        2. The quote is accurate in this case because subsidies, or even some kind of progressive tax scheme as is proposed by the author, distort the product’s market and ultimately the technology itself. If there was some kind of tax penalty on their purchase, it would hamper sales and help destroy demand in the product.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The “distortion” you speak of, 28, is that subsidies bring new technologies to consumers faster than ‘market forces’ could alone. I don’t see the harm.

          I mean, left to its’ own devices, how long would it have taken for private industry to come up with all the technologies you’re using to write that message? Is there any doubt that it’d have taken far longer than it took with the government using things like tax credits, or even direct funding?

          Technologies like the Internet or microprocessors didn’t come about totally on their own – the government either developed the technologies itself, or directly paid companies to develop them, which allowed the companies involved to amortize their initial research costs and bring out successively superior products. The superior products created their own market.

          Developing a completely new, leading edge technology is expensive as hell, and becomes far more attractive when someone else is helping amortize your costs and lessen your risk.

          In my opinion, the government has done FAR more to enhance technical innovation than to detract from it.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          1. “Then research monies need to be allocated for batteries,”

          That’s what I’d prefer, as battery tech is the enabling technology in EV development. I note that GM’s battery tech is actually owned by the Koreans. GM knows how to make a car and knows how to make an electric car (practically every automaker could do it). What nobody can do, without advanced battery tech, is make a long-range, fast-charging car that is otherwise as useful as a Corolla.

          However, politics is the art of the possible. Money for basic research tends to flow into universities and the Right knows how dangerous centers of learning are.

          2. “The quote is accurate”

          I didn’t say the quote wasn’t “accurate.” I implied – maybe should have spelled out more clearly – that it does nothing whatever for your case, as it was promulgating the notion that the Federal government supersedes the states.

          You’re using it as “taxes are bad,” when it really meant, “You hicks in Annapolis can just keep your hands off what Congress has established.”

          You should have used one of the Tea Party’s regular go-to anti-tax resources, like Ron, the Patron Saint of Massive Deficits.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            It strikes me that something like an X prize for new battery development would actually be a good move here. Musk could even fund it directly, or perhaps Tesla could use some of $7,500/unit in tax credits its collected for years selling rich man’s toys to fund it. If researchers from universities participate then that’s great, but blank checks to so called educational institutions don’t seem to produce much as of late.

            I was familial with the quote, but not the case, and it has no bearing on the truth of the quote. Taxes in general are bad, as it gov’t distortion by using tax dollars to favor or discourage products. You are intelligent enough to see this. EVs as they stand have limited appeal and function as you point out and we agree until battery technology is improved this will remain so. Continuing to use tax money to support them is throwing good money after bad. Hybrids for the time being make much more sense, IMO.

            “I mean, left to its’ own devices, how long would it have taken for private industry to come up with all the technologies you’re using to write that message?”

            Humanity has advanced more in the past hundred years than it did in thousands before it, but in the case of business unless they can turn a profit they are not interested. EVs have limited appeal as discussed above, the demand just isn’t there and won’t be until they can be made more useful. Taking the compliance angle off of it for a moment, if Nissan, Tesla, GM, Toyota or anyone else want to build a true EV and either do it profitably or as a loss leader “because its the future” they can have at it. But keep the gov’t off of the case, because subsidies are waste of tax money and if the EVs were to be somehow additionally taxed as suggested in the article it would lessen demand.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Over time, the electricity on the grid will become cleaner. We can encourage that, too, and it’s a win. Existing EVs will green up as we go along.

    Many EV owners will also take advantage of clean energy incentives and add SPV to their homes. I don’t have – or know if they’re available – figures for this but EVNUT had a gallery of photos of people with their ca 2001 Rav4-EVs and perhaps 40% of the photos had SPV panels in the picture, too. It is probable that additonal homes had SPV that didn’t show in the photo. Those cars largely sold in California, and we can expect adoption rates in the Dark’n’Cloudy states to be lower but I expect there’s significant correlation all over the US.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is the most ridiculous editorial on TTAC that I’ve ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      Ihatejalops

      Has Doug written one yet? If so, then it’s not.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether one agrees with the editorial’s opinion or not, TTAC is at least opening the discussion. How many other automotive related sites have even bothered to look into the NBER study?

      • 0 avatar

        The only other outlets that looked at the study simply copy and pasted the maps from the PDF and yelled “EVs ARE BAD, MMKAY?”

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          And this is different?

          There is no consideration of any other benefit of electric cars, whether environmental (they ease the transition to non-fossil power sources) or, incredibly, automotive (they are ridiculously responsive, surprisingly quick in real-world traffic, quiet, and smooth). Just the use of the headline conclusions of the study to complain about a subsidy, followed by some very vague discussion of taxes.

          • 0 avatar

            People don’t need subsidies for the automotive benefits. If they think those are worth it, they can choose to buy the EVs.

            I’m not convinced EVs are the best alternative to fossil fuels. I think subsidies to EVs are premature.

            I think any policy seeking to ease the transition away from fossil fuels needs to address the big picture of fossil fuel uses, not just cars, and not just EVs among cars. Personal transportation vehicles (cars, light trucks, m’cycles) represent a mere 15% of greenhouse emissions–less than meat. I think there should be a carbon tax that addresses all sources rather than singling out cars. That would have the most bang for the $.

            The Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University advocates substituting the carbon tax revenue for the income tax. I’m not necessarily advocating that, and I’m certainly not criticizing it, but it’s one very interesting idea.

            https://newsdesk.gmu.edu/2015/05/director-of-masons-energy-and-enterprise-initiative-receives-jfk-profile-in-courage-award/

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “People don’t need subsidies for the automotive benefits.”

            Absolutely right. But I’m still always baffled by the fact that almost every article buff books or major car websites publish on EVs, except occasionally for reviews of the Tesla Model S, says nothing about them. It strikes me as a case where resentment of “The Greenies” is so strong that anything associated with them must automatically be bad.

            “I think there should be a carbon tax that addresses all sources rather than singling out cars.”

            I agree 100%. But in the US one political party has drawn a line in the sand and said that will not happen, ever. So climate has to be addressed through less efficient means, one source of carbon emissions at a time. The administration has done a lot to deal with carbon-inefficient coal power, the largest source. Vehicles are the next-largest source and should be addressed. And the easiest way to address them is to transition electrical generation to greater carbon efficiency and make the vehicles electric or range-extended electric. We are already approaching the limits of efficiency with the current ICE-only approach.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            dal,

            It’s difficult to make the case for a subsidy based on how pleasant a particular type of car is to drive.

          • 0 avatar

            dal,

            The Energy and Enterprise Initiative is a conservative group which is trying to rationalize reduction of externalities based on conservative principles. I know that politics is like baseball in that although a lot seems to be happening all the time, events that change things substantively are rare. However, I have some hope that E&EI’s approach will catch fire with those on the right side of the aisle.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I don’t disagree with every point. But it is a rambling, incoherent, tortured argument in favor of more taxes – as someone mentioned – 17 times.

        And cases made from a standpoint of class envy are weak to begin with.

        Besides, the results of this study are not new; I’m surprised they’re being treated as such. The EV community has known for years that the source of the electricity determined the relative MPG an EV gets, and it was even quantified.

        Here’s a story on this subject from 2009:
        http://www.autoblog.com/2009/07/24/study-even-with-electricity-from-coal-electric-vehilces-beat-g/

  • avatar
    probert

    If you take into account that our foreign policy and military deployment, is based almost wholly on securing oil and protecting distribution networks, a large part of the military budget can be considered an oil subsidy.
    What would the real cost of gas be if this was passed to the consumer?

    The discussion of lives lost and global terrorism that is spawned by the need for oil should also be brought into the equation. Not to mention the subsidzing of the oil multinationals and their power over national sovereignty.

    If this is the deal you should acknowledge it and say it’s a price you’re willing to pay – and have others pay.

    Electric cars are charged via the grid which is largely dependent on coal. But coal is a domestic issue that can be resolved if there was the political will. Part of the answer is a a massive investment in solar and wind power. If you could clean up the totally corrupted NRC, nuclear could be an option. As it stands this is not the case.

    Regarding the efficiency of gas: It may contain a lot of energy but an ICE, at its most efficient, can only translate about 17% to actual motive force. The other 83% is lost in heat, noise, and other waste.

    An electric motor is over 90% efficient.

    If you want true sovereignty and minimized control by outside powers – the electric car is the answer. As long as you depend on oil – which is used almost exclusively to power cars – you will not have this. I think these and further subsidies, are a small investment and well worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I suspect these studies attacking ev’s are being funded by the oil industry.

    • 0 avatar
      WhiskeyRiver

      So what?

      Electric motors are more efficient than a gas-powered engine. I get that.

      To make electricity, you’re still going to burn fuel. A lot of it.

      Hybrids burn gasoline.

      Pure electrics burn coal and natural gas indirectly.

      Here’s the numbers for 2014 according to the Federal Government:

      Coal = 39%
      Natural gas = 27%
      Nuclear = 19%
      Hydropower = 6%
      Other renewables = 7%
      Biomass = 1.7%
      Geothermal = 0.4%
      Solar = 0.4%
      Wind = 4.4%
      Petroleum = 1%
      Other gases < 1%

      67% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum.)

      There's nothing clean and green about these cars. Nothing.

      And nuclear fueled power plants have a particular, and very large drawback. What do you do with the spent fuel? It's not safe anywhere you put it.

      These cars are being marketed as a “green alternative” when, in fact, the source of the electricity is many times dirtier than the car would have been with a gasoline engine.

      • 0 avatar
        j_slez

        Actually, Whiskey, you’re wrong about it taking more gas to move an EV.

        A gallon of gas contains the energy equivalent of 33.7 kWh of electricity. A modern power plant is about 50% efficient at converting that to electricity. Line losses are about 3%, and charging losses, putting that power into the EV’s battery, is about 10%. 33.7 * .5 * .97 * .9 = 14.7 kWh. My personal average is 5.2 miles per kWh, which means those 14.7 kWh from that gallon of gas got me 76.5 miles down the road. No gas-powered car can do that.

        Older power plants are more like 35-40% efficient, and some EVs (and drivers) are less efficient, averaging 4 miles per kWh. Using 35% efficiency I can get 10.3 kWh into the battery, which is Prius-like for me and a lousy 41.2 miles for that gallon for a less-efficient driver.

        As you can tell, I have an EV, and there’s a reasonable chance that I wouldn’t have gotten one yet if it weren’t for the subsidy. But the EV spurred me to put solar on my roof, so that EV subsidy led to a cleaner transportation fleet and a cleaner power grid. The EV replaced a ’95 Mustang 5.0 that got 15 mpg on a good day, so even if my power came from an inefficient coal plant, the EV is far cleaner.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        According to the New England Power Generators Association, only 6% of our power comes from coal. Massachusetts Brayton Point Coal Plant is scheduled to shut down in 2017 and that should reduce the percentage further.

        Personally, I get a major portion of the power for my car by plugging into a large solar array at the office. On my recent trip to Vermont, I plugged into a smaller array and charged. As soon as I get the time, I’m going to put up a solar array at my Massachusetts home. With an EV, you can go to cleaner sources than the grid if you want.

        On the other hand, those supposedly clean gasoline engines aren’t so clean:

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/27/caremissions-study-idUSL5N0JC35120131127

        • 0 avatar
          WhiskeyRiver

          Maybe 6% of YOUR electricity. Nationwide, it’s 67%. And that’s direct from your Federal Energy Information Administration.

          Now, while we’re on the subject of waste (maybe not but I’m goin’ there,) why in HELL do we need such an agency?

          Here’s the link: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3

          Don’t even think of pitching me someone’s politically motivated numbers.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Nationwide, it’s 67%.”

            Your own link says that it’s 39%.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            Maybe you should read your own link?? It says 39% for coal nationwide. Furthermore, due to economic reasons, coal plants are closing. It can’t compete with natural gas.

            Exactly what politically motivated numbers did I pitch? It was from an organization of power plant owners.

            If you’re so concerned about power plant pollution, maybe you should be looking for another way to power the computer you’re posting with. Maybe a hamster wheel or something.

          • 0 avatar
            WhiskeyRiver

            You’re right about coal. I’m still stuck on the astounding number for fossil fuels.

            Still… 6% isn’t even close to right.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    While I agree that “fiddling” with incentives such as “cash for clunkers” and ev incentives are a dumb way to promote energy efficiency, subsidies for ev’s are better than no subsidies for ev’s. The electricity grid is, as the word “grid” implies, interconnected all over the continent. That’s why there have been vast outages. Which means separating east and west coast electricity for the purpose of this topic is basically mistaken. Energy saved or used on one part of the continent affects energy saved or used elsewhere.

    In addition, “dirty” electricity typically is from thermal plants whose output cannot be ramped up and down over 24-hour cycles. So ev’s can be charged with power that would otherwise be wasted at night. Is it “dirty” if it’s scavenging what would otherwise be “dirty” AND wasted? Surely this factor alone has a huge impact on how “dirty” the power is.

    Probably this study also failed to address the fact that an ev’s’ lower level of maintenance means that much less energy use. This alone would be enough to invalidate the study.

    As for being expensive cars, Teslas will depreciate like any car, and they will make very efficient and affordable used cars.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The “tax subsidy for rich people” argument is a political one, meant to elicit “discussion”.

    The real environmental benefits of EV adoption are at a nascent stage – anything that encourages their adoption will give the “early push” to the technology, which will result in exponential benefits in the future.

    To use a short-sighted argument to dismiss a game-changer like EV adoption is disingenuous, even if there are some interesting diversions in the article.

    The Gov’t offered rebates on the Prius, which probably led to its adoption, eventual profitability, and the savings of billions of gallons of fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      You don’t know that electric cars will be good for society as a whole. We don’t yet know what resources will become scarce, what waste products will become abundant, or what electricity generation will look like in a world run by misanthropes. All we know for sure is that EVs are driving up costs for everyone that doesn’t take a subsidy, which means people that don’t have political power to protect themselves from the progressives’ campaign to eliminate the middle class.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        CJ, if the middle class is eliminated, who will vote for progressives? Rich people won’t vote for them, and poor people have very low participation rates. So, what your’e saying is that progressives want to eliminate their voter base?

        What a clever strategy.

        (You should really think through your tinfoil hat logic before you make yourself look foolish by posting nonsense like this…)

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The middle class doesn’t vote for progressives. The elite, and those who see themselves as elite, vote for the same party as the most dependent and least informed. Just look at Hillary’s donors, who previously lined up behind Obama to raise the speed limit on the road to serfdom. Why do you think identity politics are all progressives have to offer? They’ve been in power long enough that the harm their policies do to the middle class and poor are obvious, so all they can do is harness peoples’ innate hatred for those they can be convinced have it better than they do.

          You need to read what LBJ said about creating lifetime Democratic voters. The Great Society was all about dependency and isolation. Very progressive. The only thing more progressive would have been to gas blacks instead of just aborting most of their babies and selling the body parts.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m not sure I’ve ever read a post this long before where every sentence (except for ” You need to read…”) managed to be both factually wrong and incendiary at the same time.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “both factually wrong and incendiary at the same time.”

            Avoided Glen Beck’s show?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I will concede that it isn’t quite the majority of black babies that are aborted, but black women are five times more likely than white women to have an abortion and 16 million black babies have been aborted since 1973 from a population that only totals 36 million. As for the progressives selling the baby parts, google the terms: planned parenthood selling baby parts. It’s an international story, but probably won’t merit much coverage in the major propaganda outlets.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “google the terms: planned parenthood selling baby parts.”

            Let’s see… results returned from:
            “InfoWars” – I’d bet a quarter that the company gateway net nanny would not let me surf to that.
            “LifeNews” – I’d be surprised if I can get to this but not confident enough to bet a quarter on it.
            “Snopes” – Ah. Here we go.

            I’ll take door #3, Monty.

            “Despite the fact that this video is more than two hours long, it contains very little in the way of specifics about exactly what the Planned Parenthood representative is actually offering or selling.”

            Your “international story” looks more like failed “gotcha journalism.”

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “planned parenthood selling baby parts”

            I guess I’d support domestic vendors if I needed baby parts. Would even pay a little extra.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            As this is a car site, the more important question is whether the parts come with a warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Still believing snopes is about like believing in the tooth fairy at this point. Hell, at least the tooth fairy rewarded me financially when I believed in her.

            Here’s a 9 minute video for ADD sufferers that frames the issue with past lies from people that claimed to support responsible infanticide.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          “CJ, if the middle class is eliminated, who will vote for progressives?”

          That’s hilarious; I don’t know, maybe the rich that have traditionally voted for their political interests and the uneducated poor that have traditionally fallen hook line and sinker that they will magically be lifted out of poverty by said progressives.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The concept here is nothing new. We’ve long been givng tax breaks for product categories that needed a kick start. The best example is personal computers.

    Once upon a time, the machine you’re typing on would have cost upwards of $10,000, or more, in early-’80s dollars to boot. My dad, who owned a business, bought a IBM PC in 1983 or so. He got a nice tax break for doing so. Lots of other business owners did too. Before long, the PC became indispensable for his business, and lots of other businesses caught on and bought them too. These sales helped IBM and other PC manufacturers amortize their R/D costs, and bring out newer, better machines.

    The result was a huge new industry that has employed literally millions of Americans and created immense wealth. No doubt this would have happened in time had ‘the market’ been in control without the tax incentives, but clearly it happened faster with the incentives.

    Same thing is true of electric cars, particularly in the lower price ranges. Cole seems to be arguing that tax breaks don’t make sense for wealthy Tesla buyers, but I’d argue that they are key. Are they buying Teslas for the environment? Maybe, maybe not…but they’re undoubtedly buying them because Teslas are amazing, leading-edge cars. And the fact that the Tesla is expensive means that the high price amortizes the company’s development cost, and subsidizes future, less-expensive models.

    This is the same thing that happened 30 years ago with PC’s, folks.

    Now, what’s the government’s interest in encouraging electric cars when so much of our energy is “dirty”? That’s simple – it won’t always be dirty. Cleaner energy is coming, and it’ll be here within the next couple of decades. Problem is, today’s electric cars can’t take full advantage of tomorrow’s energy technology. When the new energy tech is available, the tech for electric cars will be far better than it is now. Translation: the tax incentives aren’t here to subsidize today’s electric cars or energy sources, but a new energy infrastructure that’s coming.

    Does that have a familiar ring vis a vis PCs? It should. Thirty years ago, PCs were standalone machines. They were useful tools, but it took the Internet, which was under development at the time, to make them a transformative technology. The tax incentives on PCs weren’t here to subsidize the technology of the day, but to help create a whole new information technology infrastructure that was coming.

    Thirty years ago, the people you did this with weren’t middle-income – the average family had little use for a PC, connected or not. But businesses, owned by people of means, did have a use for the machines. Same deal today – most middle income families can’t really make use of what amounts to a far more expensive and less capable compact car with a (optimistic) range of 40-50 miles on a charge, but a person who can afford a car that goes hundreds of miles, like a Tesla, sure can. It’s a more useful car to a person of means because they actually can buy it. Same was true of PC’s 30 years ago.

    Keep the tax incentives…it only make sense.

    • 0 avatar

      Your analogy to PCs is on point.

      But I think the EV subsidy is premature. We don’t know that the range/cost/weight problem will ever be solved, or whether refueling time will ever shrink to convenience. And we don’t know that hydrogen or plant-based fuels–quite possibly via some microbial process–won’t ultimately be more practical than EVs.

      Given all that, at this point we should be funding research into batteries and fuels based on microbes, or on plants that can be grown on marginal soils, and letting a carbon tax (maybe combined with a tax aimed at reducing our dependence on nasty dictatorships for oil) encourage more efficiency in gasoline powered cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The EV problem is indeed on the supply side, not the demand side.

        Instead of subsidizing producers, there should be research to improve the underlying technology, i.e. improve the power supply.

        If there is a better battery, super-capacitor or whatever that can be produced affordably, there will be no shortage of demand and every automaker will produce them.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think we need subsidies on BOTH sides – to spur development of EV tcch, and to development of alt energy as well. If we can converge these technologies, we could revolutionize transportation and energy.

        The technology that’s key here is fusion, which is a few decades away. It’s capable of producing immense amounts of energy with very little environment downside. That solves the “clean car – dirty energy” problem of today’s EVs.

        I think it also solves the battery storage limitations David’s talking about – if you have more options on where you can charge up – say, at home, at work, and other places – then the range of the vehicle becomes a lot less critical. That also brings the cost of the cars down, since you don’t necessarily need bleeding-edge battery tech anymore. Produce a lot more electricity, and produce it cheaper – which you could definitely do with fusion – and all the sudden that starts making sense.

        I also see a massive profit upside here. Whoever develops a marketable fusion reactor, for example, is going to make a HUGE killing.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          You won’t need to encourage consumers to buy EVs or producers to make them if they are desirable on their own.

          There is a considerable pent-up demand for electric vehicles. There is very little demand for a battery-powered vehicle because the batteries aren’t up to the job. Solve the power supply problem, and the next thing to gripe about will be the difficulties of finding gasoline for your now-collectable car.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          FreedMike,

          If you look at the various technologies that support EVs, I think you’ll find that funding the “supply side” (more fundamental Research, like battery chemistry) has enough other uses that, once the “R” is done, the “D” (Development) will follow along.

          Battery tech especially, as any portable device that uses electricity would benefit from improved batteries.

          EVs will get their share of the “D”. Once a truly useful, long-range EV is available at market prices, people will buy it.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “It’s equally clear that the future of transportation of a growing population needs to be powered by something other than a finite resource that requires breaking the earth, extracting ancient raw materials, refining them, and shipping them halfway across the world to be sold for less than milk in many markets. Relying on that incredibly destructive process for a lasting consistent energy resource makes little sense.”

    People have been saying this for 40 years and they’ve been wrong for 40 years. Saudi Arabia alone has enough proven oil reservers to power the world for the next 100 years.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      And Colorado has many times as much oil as Saudi Arabia does. Disappointing.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Saudi Arabia alone has enough proven oil reservers to power the world for the next 100 years.”

      Assuming that’s true, what you’re missing is the economic, environmental and geopolitical costs. You could also say, “let’s become 100% electricity independent tomorrow and switch to all coal,” but what would the costs of that be?

  • avatar

    Tax break on a luxury car? Pssssh.. That’s just a drop in the bucket. Most mid-sized and full-sized SUVs and crossovers, and pretty much all trucks, qualify for a substantial tax break if they are used at least 50% for “business”, because they have a gross vehicle weight rating of over 6,000 lbs.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Oh my God, my God this popcorn is orgasmic!

    The usual suspects never fail to disappoint when this kind of click bait is here.

    I haven’t even read the oped yet, just went straight to the theater with a big ol’ bucket of the fluffy popcorn and been enjoying the show.

    Oh please do continue!!!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://jalopnik.com/gm-didnt-recall-the-hummer-over-fires-until-the-feds-th-1717581525

      Hopefully TTAC will cover GM’s refusal to voluntarily recall incendiary H3s. That always shows off your amazing levels of comportment and reserve.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        This meme is so old CJ but I’ll give you credit, you are incredibly consistent.

        I didn’t even mention names on “usual suspects” but you sure assumed you’re one of them.

        crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch

        Good popcorn.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    For anyone willing to geek-out about the scientific side of this topic in more detail (crickets..), here’s a good resource for comparing the total energy life cycle requirements for various fuels:

    https://greet.es.anl.gov/publications

    In a nutshell, it seems corn based Ethanol is a real no-no. I think most of us know this already..

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Corn pretty much ruins everything. Corn-based fuel is incredibly inefficient to produce and use and mucks up engines, corn-based sugar is basically poison and causes obesity, and corn-fed beef and dairy are massively deficient in many of the regular nutrients in products from cattle on a normal grass-based diet (as well as having too many Omega-6/not enough Omega-3 fats, which promotes inflammation).

  • avatar
    redav

    If this is an indicator of the quality of editorials that will come from the ‘new’ TTAC, please just stop. It is incoherent & inconsistent. It claims taxes be levied on based on the income of the buyer, but then latest states MSRP. It mentions taxes on electricity when I think it means taxes on electric cars (not even close to the same thing). It creates a false comparison between levying taxes and issuing rebates/incentives. (It isn’t either/or–you can do both or neither.)

    .

    “It’s hard to imagine how luxury car buyers deserve the same tax breaks as car buyers shopping in ranges half that of their counterparts.”
    – Yep, just like it’s hard to imagine how people buying expensive houses should get the same tax break on their mortgage interest as people buying cheap houses. Actually, no it isn’t “hard to imagine” because the incentives were offered purely as a means to get EVs into the market, not as a means of promoting social equity. Maybe this will make me sound like an evil conservative, but often I think the law should treat all people the same and not regard the size of their wallets, even if sometimes that means people with more wealth get to benefit from that wealth.

    A better angle for this editorial would be to tackle the notion of what “fair” means: some think it means treating everyone the same regardless of income, and others think it means treating people differently according to what they have & need. Given the article’s push for “progressive” taxes, it seems to take the second option. However, it utterly fails at convincing why that’s the more “fair” choice.

    Personally, if there is to be a sliding scale, I’d rather it be based on the price of the car, not the income of the buyer. (MSRP is mentioned at the end of the article, but it seems out of place because the rest of the article only mentions buyers’ incomes. It’s almost as if the idea of buyer’s income and MSRP are the same thing.) Rebates based on car price seem to best blend both notions of “fair.” I find the article’s simplistic approach to income-based action as the typical class warfare drivel. I would much rather read the opinions of someone who actually thoughtfully “imagined” a decent reconciliation.

    .

    “it’s even harder to imagine how buyers in markets with comparatively “dirtier power” deserve clean federal tax rebates at all.”
    – No, it isn’t, unless you have no imagination nor awareness of basic facts. (FYI, telling me it’s “hard to imagine” something only serves to make you look deficient for being unable to imagine such things.) Even in the dirtiest power areas, EVs still perform on par with hybrid vehicles. That means even in the worst power areas, EVs are still a step up from general ICEs. Furthermore, the article makes an implicit assumption that grid power is static, meaning that if an area currently relies on dirty coal, it will forever continue to rely on dirty coal. That assumption is wrong. Also, by promoting EVs in the dirtiest areas, the moment their power plants become cleaner (e.g., by switching fuel sources), all those EVs suddenly also become cleaner–good luck doing that with ICE cars. If anything areas with dirty electric power + dirty cars have a greater need for cleaning up their overall pollution than areas with clean power + dirty cars. Also, claims relying on the grid ignore the fact that EV buyers have the option to install their own solar panels and power their car with something other than grid power.

    Going back to the class warfare bent, whether a citizen “deserves” a federal govt benefit because of where they live is highly distasteful and ripe for abuse. Not only does it promote inequality of treatment under the law, you just know that once established, benefits will be doled out to those areas that support an administration and withheld from areas that don’t as a means to reward cronyism & punish dissent. To reuse that tired phrase of “imagine”–can you imagine what it would be like if the federal tax benefit of mortgage interest rebates were only available to people living in states with low property values? (In this example, dirty power = high property values. Both are bad, and govt benefits–rebates/incentives/deductions aim to relieve the negative effects of the problem.)

    .

    “Tesla’s Model S outsold the Nissan Leaf despite costing nearly $40,000 more. In addition to the pricier pick, proportionately more electric-car buyers were from regions of the U.S. with higher subsidies than other parts of the country.”
    – That proves that the Tesla is a more desirable car, not that the system is “unfair.” When you give people coupons, discounts, bonuses, rebates, etc., they will use them stretch up to get that extra nicety they really want as opposed to using it toward the cheapest thing that they don’t prefer. And there’s nothing wrong with that behavior.

    It seems clear that subsidies *do* increase sales of EVs, which are identified as lukewarm. It’s also identified that fossil fuels for cars is a poor long-term strategy. So, it seems logical from the content of the editorial that EV sales need to increase. Since the title is “… Don’t Subsidize …” it would seem to address the intent of those subsidies, i.e., increase sales. Perhaps I missed it, but what exactly is the author’s proposed mechanism for increasing EV sales through taxing them?

    “But just like gasoline has in the past, electric energy requires progressive taxes”
    – How has gasoline needed “progressive taxes”? This is a genuine question. Presuming “progressive” means higher taxes for those who buy more or for those who earn more, what examples of progressive gasoline taxes have we used? I am only familiar with the one-size-fits-all tax of taxing what is bought.

    “It’s clear the gas tax is outdated and ineffective at maintaining America’s roads and bridges.”
    – No, it’s clear that a tax that is too low is ineffective at providing enough income to maintain America’s infrastructure. Raising the gas tax by a few cents and earmarking the entirety of the tax to be used only for infrastructure would more than likely be perfectly effective. Doing so would also create more demand for EVs as it increases the cost delta, which in turn promotes EV ownership, which seems to be the right goal based on the content of the article.

    .

    “Any tax revenue based on the electric car’s initial price could help fund infrastructure improvements to the power grid and offset environmental impacts felt beyond than where the vehicle is purchased.”
    – Yet, the article also says that such taxes-at-purchase, like the gas-guzzler tax “creates very little revenue.” How will EV taxes do squat to “offset environmental impacts”? I generally believe what you tax you get less of, I don’t see how a tax on EVs large enough to make a difference will also not hinder their sales, especially if the drop in gas prices is really the cause of slow EV sales. No, it seems better to tax what is consumed instead of a single tax at the time of purchase. A slight raise in gas tax combined with some sort of consumption tax (mileage driven, tax on kWh used, etc.) would be a more practical option. Or, simply budget money from the general fund to update dirty power plants with cleaner alternatives. (However, IIRC, power plants are often built/owned/maintained by private companies, so directing any tax dollars to them is just giving money to the rich.)

    .

    “Like the gas-guzzler tax, a tax on electric cars isn’t meant to raise money — it’s meant to be a consideration: how much help is a tax break on a luxury car?”
    – I assume “how much help is a tax break on a luxury car?” is meant to be the explanation of “consideration,” but that whole line of thinking is vague at best. Presumably, you mean the Model S. But Tesla doesn’t sell the Model S to sell luxury cars, it sells it to make money so they can make more cars, like the Model III, which is supposed to be reasonably ‘affordable.’ Thus, the tax incentives aren’t about subsidizing luxury cars, but propping up an industry, which admittedly has few participants, but is also mandated by law (see CARB). Like the assumption of a static power supply, the above quote assumes a static product offering, which IMO, is not realistic.

    .

    “The appeal of electric cars and clean energy would still remain, and a graduated tax on cars based on MSRP could still persuade middle-of-the-road buyers to consider potentially cleaner electric cars when they head to dealer lots.”
    – What is meant by “appeal”? If it means incentive, then no, adding taxes to a product does not retain appeal. Middle class buyers are not incentivized in any way by adding a tax. If it means warm fuzzy of doing something good for the environment, then, yes. But from the lukewarm sales data, clearly warm fuzzies don’t get the job done.

    Here the article seems to equate MSRP and buyers’ incomes. Perhaps that’s a mental fart or bad editing, but either way, it demonstrates the editorial is poorly executed. Clearly, those two things are not the same. Rich people buy cheap cars all the time (as well as expensive ones), and given the reports we see about “average” purchase price, poor people pay too much for cars. MSRP and income are not interchangeable.

    .

    “But needlessly subsidizing wealthier buyers purchasing environmentally neutral — or marginally helpful — electric cars doesn’t serve a larger goal of cleaner transportation.”
    – *Citation needed. The Tesla Model S compared to any traditional large luxury sedan (what those undeserving wealthy people would likely buy otherwise) are *far* cleaner environmentally. The Model S is comparable to small hybrids in dirty power areas, which they likely won’t buy. The claim that EVs don’t lead to cleaner transportation is completely false.

    As already stated, EV sales are slow, and without some form of incentive, they would be even slower. Thus, the claim of “needlessly” is invalid. If we want the industry of EVs to catch, some sort of incentive seems absolutely needed.

    .

    In all, this is terrible article and a bad first step for Aaron. I can give the benefit of the doubt and assume this editorial was more a test of the waters than an actual researched opinion, but if this quality becomes a trend, much of my respect for TTAC will have been lost.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      *Claps*. This is a well written editorial.

    • 0 avatar
      markf

      The only incentive should be a good product that people want to buy.

      Apple didn’t need any incentives when they were sucking wind. They built products people wanted. Why can’t Tesla do the same.

      Why do taxpayers have to pick up the tab to get the industry to “catch” It would catch if it were worth something more than a toy for wealthy Liberals to show other wealthy Liberals they are “doing something” for the environment…..

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        In principle, I am against incentives – but they were a key factor in my decision to lease my Leaf. The money was on the table, and I’m going to pick it up like anyone else would.

        Incentives are a large part of our lives, like it or not. I may not agree with them, but anyone with a mortgage, who makes a charitable donation, operates a school, does research, owns a farm, or builds a factory is a recipient of them. Ending them all would bring out the torches and pitchforks.

        The wealthy liberal/EV meme is getting old, just as it did for the Prius. I happen to be a conservative middle-class EV driver who likes the ownership experience very much. The car has served about 95-99% of my driving needs, and I’ll be sorry to see it go away in two months. It’s easy to get used to $20/month in ‘fuel’ and no maintenance.

        As for the environment, while I see no reason to worsen the environment, I don’t lose sleep over it, either. I can’t even brag to my other EV friends, because I don’t know anybody else with one.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Wow redav, excellent, excellent response.

      Like you, I hope this isn’t the future of TTAC editorials. I don’t mind reading opposing ideas so much, but poorly constructed, rambling, emotional diatribes like this one don’t fly.

      As a conservative, I always had much more respect for Ted Kennedy’s viewpoint than Al Sharpton’s – the former made lucid arguments; the latter is a raving nut.

      For you liberals out there, consider the difference between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

      Please, Mr. Cole, give us more ‘Ted Kennedy’ quality, and then we can have a friendly argument over a beer.

    • 0 avatar
      Tifighter

      Great response redav. Respect.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Please, I would pay people not to contaminate my gasoline with ethanol. This thing causes so much damage especially to the direct injection intake valve that I do not want it anywhere near my car.

    You can keep your lobbying and send your fuel to the government vehicles if you want, you can keep the farm subsidies so that you can dump all the corn syrup into soda if you want, but stay away from my gas.

    Regarding to EV, sure you can stop the subsidies, even charge people extra to buy EV, I don’t care as long as you still gives out carpool lane stickers, free bridge toll ($5 per day), and free charging at work places.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Re: Ethanol

      I grew up in corn country in Ohio, but back in Summer 2013 when I towed my Mustang from Ohio to New Mexico with the old F150 Heritage I used the “Pure Gas” app to find non-ethanol gas when I could get it. Keeping careful track of miles and MPG I found I got far better performance out of the real thing.

      Sadly living here in Tohatchi, NM there’s no “pure gas” within 100 miles of me.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        A petroleum product with a bunch of chemicals in it isn’t “pure.”

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          PrincipalDan is referring to a website and app that provide locations of stations that sell gasoline that isn’t contaminated with ethanol. Your fight is with the proprietors of pure-gas.org/. They can probably use a laugh.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        PrincipalDan,

        I found the difference between 10% ethanol and “pure” gas to be within rounding errors.

        PandaBear: “This thing causes so much damage especially to the direct injection intake valve that I do not want it anywhere near my car.”

        I’ve been using it since 1982 or so and all the trouble I’ve had with my cars can be traced to crap manufacturing, not to the fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      There are several non-ethanol stations in our area. One is by the Auburn, Washington airport. I’ve run the numbers and I get much better MPG with the ethanol free petrol.

      However, the price difference between local E10 and the E0 can run 70 cents to $1 a gallon, so the math just doesn’t add up.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It’s $14/gallon in my neighborhood, sold in 5 gallon cans for $70. I might pay an extra 70 cents to a dollar a gallon if it was for 93 octane.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        “However, the price difference between local E10 and the E0 can run 70 cents to $1 a gallon, so the math just doesn’t add up.”

        Hmmm… $.50/gallon at 35mpg over 100K miles is… close to $1500. Unless I had incontrovertible proof that it was causing $1500 in damage to the car every 5 years, I certainly wouldn’t bother.

  • avatar
    markf

    It’s “pure” as far as the formula for gasoline goes.

    You arrogance and condescending attitude knows no bounds.

    This article points why any subsidy is a bad idea, the tax code is used as a why to bribe voters. The mortgage interest payment tax deduction is probably the most prominent and wide spread example. It allows the government to “chose” it’s preferred class with financial incentives. In this case choosing buyers over renters.

    Gasoline will not go away. It is by far the most efficient energy source for transportation. Electric cars have made zero progress in 100 years. Yes, Teslas are nice, quick, very cool but they have about the same effective range of all electric cars. That electricity has to come from somewhere so until we start building nuke plants by the dozens it will never be “clean”

    Peak oil has been peddled since the beginning of the auto. The earth will not run out of oil, much to the chagrin of Liberals.

    Public transport should be run at what it actually costs. Then maybe the insane salaries, pensions and benefits public transport employees enjoy (just look what MTA folks make in NY/NJ)would be brought under control. That’s the real cost behind”public” transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “It’s “pure” as far as the formula for gasoline goes.”

      That makes absolutely no sense.

      Not only is there no such thing as “pure” gasoline at a modern gas station, but you wouldn’t want it even if you could buy it. Gasoline is supposed to have other chemicals in it.

      Ethanol at E10 levels acts as a detergent. Top Tier gas requires ethanol because of that very reason. The other chemicals in gasoline are also there to make your car run better than they would without them.

      The nonsense on car forums is astounding. If you committed half of the time that you spent typing to quality research, then you would already know this.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The purpose of Top Tier gas is to counteract the detrimental effects of E10. That is why E10 is used as the base fuel to test Top Tier additives, but Top Tier gas does not contain ethanol in the rare instances that ethanol can be excluded under federal and local law.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Your inability to read strikes yet again.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I would bet every penny I have that you will recycle your argument that gasoline customers are free riding on highways because the federal transportation budget exceeds gas tax receipts even though I showed you the numbers to prove you were wrong because 40% of the highway trust fund is spent on other projects.

            Gas tax revenues exceed federal highway spending. Top Tier gas does not have to contain ethanol. Base fuel is E10 to test the efficacy of the detergents at protecting engines from ethanol. Most Top Tier Gas is E10 because laws specify that most gasoline sold must be E10. If the law, which only serves corn growers, didn’t specify E10, then you’d have to be completely ignorant to allow E10 to enter your engine. E10 diminishes efficiency, is roughly energy neutral in production, and is relatively quick to break down and damage fuel system components. Do you know what the base fuel is for EPA testing?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Put down the shovel and stop hitting yourself in the head with it.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Ahhh arrogant liberals, always wrong but never in doubt……

        No one, no the original poster claimed gasoline was “pure” meaning devoid of chemicals. e stated pure, meaning devoid of ethanol.

        Maybe you should lookup context. Great reading there Bub.

        Maybe, if you spent less time being a jackass you would understand what what people write.

        Typical Liberal, never listening, just waiting for others to shut up so you can get back to your Think Progress talking points.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I see that this is going well.

          You dupes think that calling something “pure” makes it good. You’re suckers for meaningless jargon.

          What you should want is to use the fuel that your car was designed to use. And chances are pretty good in today’s America that it was made to run on E10, plus some other stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Do you know the base fuel that manufacturers use for EPA certification of their cars? The answer will give you a hint was to whether E0 or E10 delivers superior performance.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Aside from the fact that the EPA fuel economy testing regime and the Top Tier detergent standard have absolutely nothing to do with each other, that’s an, er, great point.

            Incidentally, the EPA is phasing in E10 for the fuel economy test, which will give you something more to panic about.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            5. When I buy gas at the pump, it typically contains about 10% ethanol and other additives. Does EPA use a gasoline-ethanol blend for fuel economy testing?

            No, EPA’s test fuel does not currently contain any ethanol or other oxygenates. However, EPA does account for the impact of low-level ethanol blends in our fuel economy estimates. Ethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline—about 1/3 less energy per gallon. That means a car operating on 10% ethanol would require about 3% more fuel to travel one mile than a car operating on gasoline and thus have about 3% lower fuel economy. EPA currently reduces all fuel economy test values by about 10% to account for ethanol in gasoline and other factors such as wind, hills, and road conditions.

            http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/documents/420f14015.pdf

            Good stuff, that ethanol! All you have to do to norm for it is reduce the fuel mileage achieved on ‘pure’ gasoline by the amount of ethanol one dilutes with.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I forgot that you are one of those guys who thinks that 2+2=22.

            The EPA testing program began in the mid-70s before E10 was commonplace. They have since adjusted the test math, but kept using the same fuel. Nothing to do with Top Tier, which is a detergent standard.

            And it would be really awesome if you would read your own link: “EPA is also finalizing an ethanol content of 10 percent (E10) for emissions test gasoline.” Reading is fundamental.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “No, EPA’s test fuel does not currently contain any ethanol or other oxygenates. However, EPA does account for the impact of low-level ethanol blends in our fuel economy estimates.”

            So? The EPA test is meant as a guide towards which car is likely to do better. YMMV. It’s not a guarantee.

            My experience is that my cars, using 10% ethanol because that’s what’s convenient and cheap, get 5-10% better fuel economy on highway trips (usually at 4 over the limit) than the EPA tells me to expect.

            Corn juice must be good stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The EPA hates ethanol so much that it wants to move the US to E15, even though the automakers want to keep it at E10.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            That’s like saying Stalin hated 5-year plans so much he enforced them even though Kulaks wanted there to be sufficient food.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m not sure what to think of a guy who brings up Stalin out of context at the drop of a hat, yet insists on talking about motor fuel even though he doesn’t understand the concept of energy density or that alcohol cleans stuff.

            I’m just curious — are you under the impression that chocolate cake is better for your health than a carrot because it has more calories per ounce?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    OK, I’ve spit the popcorn out of my mouth and I’ve lost my appetite.

    I have to say it. A certain poster in this thread has been utterly detestable in some of the things they have posted.

    Incendiary at best, as one poster put it.

    Racist.

    Baiting.

    Completely, totally, off-topic.

    But this isn’t a one time thing. This isn’t a “bad day.” This is every, single, time, they appear, they go on a 24 to 48 hour tear in every thread, and every thread goes from amusing to a tirade about liberals, Communists, Obama, and a countless list of other completely unrelated topics.

    I have never in the years I’ve been reading, posting, and contributing as a writer to TTAC ever publicly or privately called for someone to be banned. And I say that as someone’s who lively debate with Ed (my reply to his NYT oped in late ’08 or early ’09 IIRC is a good example) ran afoul of Bertel.

    I know that TTAC has a pretty open policy on posters and really, REALLY, tries to turn and look the other way for the occasional transgressions. I’m not calling for the dark days of public shaming, troll polls, and banning games with people that the editorial staff didn’t agree with. But even Jack and Derek pulled the plug on more than one poster when it just went too far – and Jack even did an apology when he did it, after vowing publicly that he wouldn’t it.

    Lines do get crossed. Even some of TTACs own through the years have stepped on it, as we know – and some of the less kind past has resulted in some great editors and writers moving on.

    But if some of the comments made by a singular poster today in this thread don’t get you banned, I’m really not sure what does then. What today’s oped has to do with a number of random topics a singular poster continues to bring up here on conservative versus liberal politics is just tiresome at this point.

    So I’m asking – can we cut losses and just ban at this point. I don’t want fanfare. I don’t want a story. I’m just tired of reading it at this point – been tired for a long time – and today it just totally off the rails. I wrote my earlier reply expecting the typical ramblings from a couple of people in the B&B, but this thread has devolved to the point I would say just end the comments in this thread, turn it off, before it gets really ugly – because we are to the point of ugly.

    I don’t come here to read the ramblings of the abortion rate by race and at least a half-dozen other non-related, non-car, non-auto-industry, non-anything that has been related to TTAC in this or any other lifetime topics being dragged into the comments.

    Please make it stop. It isn’t a call for censorship or moderation, but I think all lines of reasonable have been crossed at this point.

    There, I said it — flame away.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I don’t post here that often, generally because it feels like whistling in the wind. Even a topic like this one, EVs, that I’m very interested in and have strong opinions about, I pass on because I know that the battle lines have been drawn, and no minds will be changed. But I’m posting here in support of your point. The off-topic vitriol has gotten completely out of control.

      I can’t in good conscience ask the editors to ban someone entirely, but I can ask for the capability to suppress individual posters from MY view of the comments section. I largely do that already with the low-tech approach of simply not reading his toxic drivel, but it doesn’t always work. I would much rather not even be presented with his rantings. It would make my experience here at TTAC much more pleasant and meaningful.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Just scroll past it.

        In any case, it’s a helpful reminder that there is a considerable contingent on his side of the aisle that is genuinely nuts. It isn’t just a difference of opinion, it’s neurotic.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Oh please, the world is beyond political correct as is, stifling conversation because you happen to disagree or it makes you uncomfortable is unacceptable when you can just click off.

      The bigger problem here is starting articles that are seemingly meant to rile up the two sides. Although I will say I don’t see this as being one of those articles, it’s really a pretty good place to start.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        This.

        Do we really need muffled drums and the judge putting a black doily on his head?

        Lighten up and just skip stuff you don’t like. Or make some crack about it. Or visit someone with a chihuahua and realize that there are creatures who just can’t help their mode of expression.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        This has nothing to do with political correctness, and my constitution has put up with worse. Hummer, I rarely agree with your comments but I find them worth reading. But when comments regularly veer off topic into political hate, a line has been crossed. I’m not stifling anyone’s speech when I ask to screen out individuals who have demonstrated a consistent inability to be rational and germane. I’ve learned a great deal from this site, both from the original posts and attendant comments, but there are posters who merely waste my time.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I reluctantly have to agree with Hummer here. The reluctance is because CJ does make far more comments that are genuinely toxic than most posters (including Hummer) that are in general accord with his views.

        The shame of it is that when he’s not on unhinged political rants CJ is a smart observer about cars.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Apparently the GM fanboy thing tickled a nerve.

      No one is forced to read anything here. Keep on scrollin.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @APaGttH:

      I hadn’t noticed these comments today until you mentioned them.

      I don’t recall your politics, but as a conservative I’ve never watched Fox News and quit listening to any talk radio years ago – I just can’t stand the wacky rhetoric and poor journalism that has become their hallmark.

      As for banning, etc., it’s up to TTAC to determine how distracting such comments are here. I don’t think this particular thread has been completely derailed by his inflammatory comments, but there is a risk of it. A warning would be in order.

      Scrolling past the non-sensical rhetoric is always an option, but that’s a bit like sorting dead bugs out of your brown rice – possible, but not enjoyable on a daily basis.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        “Scrolling past the non-sensical rhetoric is always an option, but that’s a bit like sorting dead bugs out of your brown rice – possible, but not enjoyable on a daily basis.”

        This says it better than I have.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “sorting dead bugs out of your brown rice”

        Free extra protein and you’re throwing it away.

        *sigh* First Worlders.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      “APaGttH
      July 14th, 2015 at 3:59 pm
      OK, I’ve spit the popcorn out of my mouth and I’ve lost my appetite.”

      One minute you’re crunching popcorn over the prospect of reading juicy comments (which you seem to know will be divisive); the next you want people banned. Make up your mind.

  • avatar
    boomstick

    Recent listener, 2nd time caller.

    I started reading this site in an attempt to learn something about cars before the upcoming retirement of my DD (a term I never would have used few weeks ago). Having to sift through the polemic to glean useful insight is actual very unpleasant. Sorry. And no, you don’t know my political stance. I didn’t think it was all that relevant to reading about cars.

    When you participate in a forum for a while, sometimes you forget that people who don’t write anything are still reading what you’re saying. As someone who prefers to lurk –and should, b/c I definitely know nothing about cars– reading all that above is why I usually skip the comments. It was more than one person, and I don’t think banning is the answer, but I just want to learn something, not have my day crapped on.

    Sorry, that rhetoric was sh**ty to read. I know people believe those things, but I just come here for the auto knowledge.

    And not only did I not vote for Obama, he wasn’t even on the ballots here.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      My suggestion to you would be to skip articles like this, or at least the comments. I comment here quite a bit, but don’t have much to say about the arguments going on here. I’d skip it if I were you.

      • 0 avatar
        boomstick

        I appreciate what you’re saying, bball. Often the comments (made by some of chief offenders above, even) are where the more useful info is. I don’t mind scrolling past in-jokes, but the political stuff is not my idea of an entertaining read.

        But I was fooled by the lack of text speak into thinking most comments would be on topic. And that’s educational in an unintended way.

  • avatar
    AKADriver

    This article misses one important point.

    The primary motivation for purchasing an electric car is to reduce CO2 emissions. The study here is entirely excluding CO2 and focusing on air pollutants such as particulates and oxides of nitrogen. Things that, yes, dirty coal-fired plants create in abundance.

    Electric or alt-fuel car subsidies and gasoline/diesel taxes will necessarily change in the coming years as electric/alt-fuel cars take more and more market share and autonomous tech puts the whole concept of private car ownership into question for many people.


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